Paul Austers Postmodernity (Studies in Major Literary Authors)


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Auster and his second wife, writer Siri Hustvedt the daughter of professor and scholar Lloyd Hustvedt , were married in , and they live in Brooklyn. He has said his politics are "far to the left of the Democratic Party " but that he votes Democratic because he doubts a socialist candidate could win. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Paul Auster.

Contemporary Fiction and Modernism

Auster at the Brooklyn Book Festival. Lydia Davis —; divorced Siri Hustvedt —present. Poetry portal. It is the only film that the protagonist watches of Hector Mann's later, hidden films. It is the story of a man meeting a girl — an intense relationship with a touch of supernatural elements. Auster later created a real movie of the same name see "Other Media" section below.

Theater Rigiblick. Retrieved April 23, Retrieved September 19, Auster hails from Newark, New Jersey, and Hustvedt from Minnesota, where she was raised the daughter of a professor, among a clan of very tall siblings.

Conversations with Paul Auster — Google Books. Retrieved April 20, Hadley Freeman meets a modernist with some very traditional views" , The Guardian , October 26, Retrieved January 15, The Guardian. Turkey: Artsbeat. Penguin Random House. Retrieved June 5, Retrieved December 25, A Life in Words.

Seven Stories Press. Essays on Paul Auster. Penn Studies in Contemporary American Fiction. University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia 2. The New Yorker. The Irish Times. American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved April 16, Archived from the original on November 20, Archived from the original on May 14, The Observer.

Retrieved October 26, The Independent. Archived from the original PDF on May 27, Retrieved May 20, The New York Times. After graduating in French Literature, Italian and English from Columbia University in , he moved to Paris and lived from the translation of French authors. Back in his country and settled in New York in , he began writing essays, poems and novels of his own. After being rejected by several publishers, his first novel City of Glass was finally issued in Since then, it has been translated into seventeen different languages so far and has been the subject of many studies, like this one.

Paul Auster is hailed as a postmodernist writer in conjunction with other American authors, and in the short time since the publication of The New York Trilogy , in which City of Glass is included, he has become one of Americas most praised novelists. The New Trilogy is a series of three loosely-connected unconventional detective stories. At first sight we believe we are about to read classical detective fiction, following the tradition of Edgar Allan Poe.

However, instead of being organized around a mystery and a series of clues, the author uses the old techniques of traditional detective form to discuss existential issues and questions of identity, the role of chance, space, coincidence, and. City of Glass does not meet the readers expectations about a typical New York city novel either.

The author built a text for a modified, postmodern cityscape where all objects of the city seem like linguistic codes that need to be deciphered. For this reason, it has been defined as an anti-detective fiction, meta-detective fiction, and others. The term is also used to denote a reaction against the ideas of the modernist movement. As Todd Gitlin states: Postmodernism is, more than anything else, a reaction to the s. It is post-Vietnam, post-New left, post-hippie, post-Watergate. History was ruptured, passions have been expended, belief has become difficult; heroes have died and been replace by celebrities , p.

Because of that, it is a very complicated matter. We can easily find various disagreements concerning its impact, definition and ideas. Besides, there are many aspects of postmodern principles. For the purpose of this study, we will focus on the postmodern fiction features. Among other characteristics, postmodern fiction elements include intertextuality, the parody, the pastiche, the irony, the metafiction, the temporal distortion and playfulness with the language.

All these features can be found in Austers works. His works are also famous for their tense inwardness and autobiographical elements. One central theme in City of Glass shows he has been influenced by Lacans theory. In short, Lacan declares that we enter the world through the use of language. All the world we see is structured in our mind through language.

Austers protagonists are often writers who. The last sentence of the red notebook reads: What will happen when there are no more pages in the red notebook? Thats in fact what seems to be happened, as he disappears. The use of metafictional narrative techniques is equally strong. Lets face it: the main character in City of Glass, Daniel Quinn, is passionate about detective fiction.

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He is a pseudonymous mystery writer who uses another name in his works, William Wilson. The solitude of his life his wife and son are dead and he has no other relatives or friends and the enough money for him to live modestly in a small New York apartment ibid, p. One day this is broken by a wrong number call which gives him the possibility of assuming someone elses identity, It was a wrong number that started it, the telephone ringing three times in the dead of the night, and the voice on the other end asking for someone he was not ibid, p.

Lonely and bored, Quinn accepts the case in Paul Austers place a private detective. Stillman had locked his son in a dark room for many years, trying to make him speak Gods language, the one spoken before the episode of the Tower of Babel. After following the old Stillman for a considerable amount of time, he concludes there is no purpose in his wanderings and decides to watch the doorway of Stillmans son.

It is relevant to say that he also meets a real Paul Auster in the story, who is also a writer and here we have an instance of coincidence, another strong aspect in the authors works. As we can see, the reader has to realize that the real mystery is one of confused character identities and realities. Living like a homeless person with almost no time to sleep. When he finds out that everything he had been trying to make sense is out of his grip, he goes to a dark room himself a cubicle in the Stillmans empty apartment , and keeps writing in his red notebook until he eventually disappears from the sight of the narrator, a friend of Auster, the writer who lived in Brooklyn.

Moreover, it is clear that we deal with an anti-detective fiction. As Rudat explains about the topic, one specific characteristic of this anti-detective fiction is that the reader is led to the anticipation that he is reading a classical detective story but that those expectations are left unfulfilled. Although conventional elements of classical detective fiction are used, like the detective, the crime, the culprit, the victim, and the detection process, the role of the detective has changed.

He has lost his function of an order-establishing centre since he himself and his inner life are not unified ibid, p. He no longer investigates the crime; it turns out to be an investigation on his life, his own experiences as well as the search for solving the case turns into a quest for identity. But first let us examine how Fogg ends up in front of the painting in the first place.

postmodernism | Quotation is the national vice

Here prelapsarian language does not formulate itself in the unity of signifiers and signifieds inherent in names given by Adam, but rather in the language games necessary to solve an unsolvable problem, that is, to make the infinite seem finite and the other way round. With so much falling away from him now, the immediate physical presence of things stood at the edge of his consciousness as a kind of paradise, an unobtainable realm of ordinary miracles: the tactile, the visible, the perceptual field that surrounds all life.

Effing painted his masterpieces in his cave in the same manner — he created pictures never to be seen by anyone. In a similar vein, Fogg reaches its original goal of utmost passivity when striding across the continent without any destination in mind, without any intention to arrive at any place whatsoever. As I already indicated, there is a third aspect made problematic by its carrying the burden of such humanistic concepts as responsibility, giving oneself up to the Other, the morality of good and bad, in one word: love.

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After that the wolf becomes a talking machine. First the food, then the words — into the mouth, out of it. In the strictest sense of the word, I consider myself a realist. Chance is a part of our reality: we are continually shaped by the forces of coincidence, the unexpected occurs with numbing regularity in our lives… To put it in another way: truth is stranger than fiction.

What I am after, I suppose, is to write fiction as strange as the world I live in The art of Hunger As for the "premodern moral causality" immanent in the Austerean text, the dialogue between Derridean and Levinasian concepts of ethics must enter the discussion. Jacques Derrida connects the problems of ethics in the postmodern episteme with undecidability. Several scholars made critical enquiries into his concept. This statement is strengthened by the Derridean claim that no responsibility can be taken without taking that responsibility for something that is bound to prove itself to be ultimate undecidability.

Clearly, the existentially heroic quests of the Auster protagonists … constitute a moral quest, although this is an inconvenience for those critics who think that a moral purpose disqualifies an author from being postmodern Merivale, In the Levinasian concept of philosophy the ethics of responsibility comes before its imperative drive to seek truth and knowledge through theoretical interrogations.

In other words, the subject has its origins in alterity. Thus, alterity as a force of subjectivation is always a priori in its relation to the subject. In this case a Heideggerian concept heavily debated by Levinas , it would be the ego that determined the Other, which would, in turn, constitute the ontological subject based on its freedom, intelligibility knowing , and representation.

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Levinas attacks such a concept, hence his insistence on the "primordial phenomenon of gentleness" Levinas, in the face-to-face encounter with the Other, which creates the revelation of alterity. The transcendental Other preceding subjectivation is precisely what is described by Auster in the following passage relating the revelation of "love at first sight":. I had resigned myself to a certain kind of life, and then, for reasons totally obscure, this beautiful Chinese girl had dropped in front of me, descending like an angel from another world. It would have been impossible not to fall in love with her, impossible not to be swept away by the simple fact that she was there Moon Palace , However, Auster seems to confirm that this presence is marked by a corporeality, which is prior to representing the world.

With his words, Uncle Victor transforms absence into presence for the fatherless Fogg:. I had not heard the term before, but I could tell that it hinted at gruesome and unfortunate things. When I asked Uncle Victor to explain to me, he invented an answer I have always remembered. But then again, love has its paradoxical implications in Moon Palace.

My interrogation into the topic relies on Lacanian concepts applied to interpret subjective becoming in an instructing essay written about Moon Palace by Salah el Moncef.


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In his study, el Moncef concludes that Auster manages to transform the process of metonymic drift into a "fuzzy" el Moncef, 75 conceptual model for the symbolic and imaginary articulations of the subjectivity. This metonymic contiguity, at the level of the individual sign, appears in the form of a differential movement in the chain of signification, which transforms the unit into a rich signifying event: a semiologically condensed signifier with its "spiraling masses of connectedness" and its "immanent differences" el Moncef, Thus, a book of questions, the idea of a book that remains exposed to its own openness is connected to a locus of representation, "a blank page of death" Moon Palace Every now and then, I would plant myself between the two windows and watch the Moon Palace sign.

Even that was enjoyable, and it always seemed to generate a series of interesting thoughts. Those thoughts are somewhat obscure to me now — clusters of wild associations, a rambling circuit of reveries — but at the time I felt they were terribly significant Moon Palace Salah el Moncef defines three different modes of consciousness inherent in the concept of mise-en-abyme. Once, I remember, I saw the Moon Palace sign in front of me, more vivid than it had ever been in life. The pink and blue neon letters were so large that the whole sky was filled with their brightness.

Then, suddenly, the letters disappeared, and only the two os from the word Moon were left. I saw myself dangling from one of them, struggling to hang on like an acrobat who had botched a dangerous stunt. The two os had turned into eyes, gigantic human eyes that were looking at me with scorn and impatience. They kept on staring at me, and after a while I became convinced that they were the eyes of God Moon Palace As Maurice Blanchot states:.

When I am alone, I am not alone, but, in this present, I am already returning to myself in the form of someone Blanchot, Fogg furnishes his room with boxes of books passed on him by his Uncle Victor. It made no difference to me. It is undecidably a trap and at the same time an escape from all traps: the blank page of death, a "white page of uncertainty" el Moncef, Mise-en-abyme here does not so much offer room for infinite regress a means to evade logocentric end as it presents itself in the form of "light which is also the abyss, a light one sinks into, both terrifying and tantalizing.

It is being unable to interpret a homogenous surface el Moncef cites the scene of Hamlet and Polonius interpreting the random shapes of clouds el Moncef, 75 that drives Effing mad, who later on manages to create masterpieces depicting the very same scenery of ghosts. This manifestation and symptomatic index of the differential dynamic of discourse is the point de capiton of signification, an overdetermined, "sheer drive" event of interconnecting a host of chance references sychronically with one another.

This condensed discoursive locus is also the atopian field of inwardness, an intersection point, from where a metonymic drift of discourse is projected into "fuzzy" subjectivities fringing the limit of this white space, a white page of uncertainty. We can find a parallel for the white space as a dead center of inward and outward projections creating an atopian locus for the fuzzy subjectivity in The Invention of Solitude.

Here Auster offers four archives as loci for fluctuating subjectivities which create a core for the fuzzy subjectivity of the narrator. This central room is also an index for an absent father, since — as chance would have it — it is the very same room his father lived in several decades before. The chambre de bonne serves as an empty place for meditation for the "fuzzy" subjectivity, which is always already in the process of being created by the cross references of the four archives.

There is an infinite number of ways how the wandering mind can connect these archives, and the more footprints these movements leave around the white surface of the center, the more visible the fuzzy subjectivity becomes in the invisible space of the chambre de bonne. I propose randomness as a strategy here because it seems to promote a vision of the traveler that departs if I may say so from that of both the user of maps and the creator of maps, which I earlier equated with the reader and the writer.

Travelers who do not go anywhere, apparently, do not need maps. They err — they subvert the idea of destination. Their wanderings are not trips, and we may feel that there is no meaning to their aimlessness. But this meaninglessness ceases as soon as the observer wants to make sense of the trajectory. Roland Barthes must also be a referenced here. The latter is a metaphor connecting the concept of literary works as polyphonous dialogues among textual echoes to the image of a room.

Ralph Albert Blakelock — was an American romantic visionary tonalist landscape painter. The tonalist movement he belongs to is associated with transcendentalism and illusionistic pictorial representation arising from a metaphysical interest in the sublime. As indicated in the previous chapter, although Fogg and Effing creates differing interpretations of the atopian desert as a field of signification, both of them are losing sanity being baffled by the ungraspable magnitude of sense. By the time he was commanded by his grandfather to internalize the painting, Fogg had already put behind his intentional failure of subjectivization mesmerized by gazing en abyme into the Moon Palace sign as a point de capiton.

Imagine that you are Blakelock, painting the picture yourself" Moon Palace However, Fogg does not find meaning, but creates a paradoxical multiplicity of meanings through his open-ended self autorship cf. The ekphrais here carries the weight of undecidabilities up to a point when it excludes finding a solid basis for concrete meaning, definite interpretation. I got so involved in studying these obscure details in the lower part of the picture that when I finally looked up to study the sky again, I was shocked to see how bright everything was in the upper part. Even taking the full moon into consideration, the sky seemed too visible.

Once I finally noticed this, I began to see other odd things in the painting as well. The sky , for example, had a largely greenish cast. Tinged with yellow borders of clouds, it swerled around the side of the large tree in a thickening flurry of brushstrokes, taking on a spiralling aspect, a vortex of celestial matter in deep space. The transfixation on the moon creates an atopian surface, its vortiginous effect evades any possibility for fixed meanings or monadic subjectivities.

Instead, it lures, draws the eye towards the anamorphic eye of the picture, which signifies lack of presence. This lacuna offers itself as a blank space of death, and forces the eye of the beholder to secure itself as a source of presence in the picture.

Paul Austers Postmodernity (Studies in Major Literary Authors) Paul Austers Postmodernity (Studies in Major Literary Authors)
Paul Austers Postmodernity (Studies in Major Literary Authors) Paul Austers Postmodernity (Studies in Major Literary Authors)
Paul Austers Postmodernity (Studies in Major Literary Authors) Paul Austers Postmodernity (Studies in Major Literary Authors)
Paul Austers Postmodernity (Studies in Major Literary Authors) Paul Austers Postmodernity (Studies in Major Literary Authors)
Paul Austers Postmodernity (Studies in Major Literary Authors) Paul Austers Postmodernity (Studies in Major Literary Authors)
Paul Austers Postmodernity (Studies in Major Literary Authors) Paul Austers Postmodernity (Studies in Major Literary Authors)
Paul Austers Postmodernity (Studies in Major Literary Authors) Paul Austers Postmodernity (Studies in Major Literary Authors)
Paul Austers Postmodernity (Studies in Major Literary Authors) Paul Austers Postmodernity (Studies in Major Literary Authors)
Paul Austers Postmodernity (Studies in Major Literary Authors)

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